Below Kearsarge Pass

Posted from Independence, California, United States.

Thomas Prepares to Cross the Ice Chute on Forrester Pass
Thomas Prepares to Cross the Ice Chute on Forrester Pass

I woke up & had breakfast in bed this morning. Jewel Thief & I roused late again. We were just finishing packing up at 8am when Tomas & Nick came hiking up the trail. We had left tem in Kennedy Meadows, but they had caught up by not summitting Whitney. Together the 4 of us set off towards Forrester Pass.The trail was completely snowbound, but we could look up the basin & see the famous little notch in the rock wall. The snow was hard & we made good time. Soon we were standing at the base of the pass looking almost 1000 feet straight up. The bottom 2/3 of the ascent was a snow slope which we used our ice axes & crampons to crawl up spiderman style. I’d plant the axe, then my other hand, then move each foot one at a time. The key was not looking down. Soon enough we reached the exposed switchbacks that are blasted into the cliff face. Near the top of the switchbacks we came to the main snow chute. The hikers ahead had kicked some very solid steps, but I was still nervous as the snow was bulletproof hard. Across the chute we climbed the last few short switchbacks & a 4 foot wall of snow to gain the top. We celebrated up there where Jewel Thief & I introduced Thomas & Nick to the Kool-Aid Slushy; they were instantly addicted. Soon enough we began our descent. For the first 1/2 mile we post-holed badly – often waist deep. The snow firmed up soon though and we began our race against the clock down. We knew that as the day got later the snow would soften & we would start post-holing again. Our route wound around & down towards Bubbs Creek across 4 miles of solid snow. About 1/2 mile before treeline, and at least partial bare ground, the clock won & we sludged through – I even post-holed into a small creek. Under the trees we took a long late lunch. Our afternoon trail follwed the raging creek down the valley. At one point we came across the destruction of an avalanche. Across the field, trees were literally exploded. Branches, needles, & pinecones were strewn everywhere. The avalanche had come down one wall, across the creek, & even 100 foot up the other side. Our day ended by climbing 1000 foot up out of the valley. At the top we left the PCT to hike the 8 miles over Kearsarge Pass to a trailhead for a resupply in Indepenedence. The 4 of us made camp beside a creek at the base of the pass. This section has been amazing, but it will be good to be in town.

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